SEL Team

Meet the SEL Team

Main Office: 512.414.9791

Photo of Pete Price, Director of SEL

SEL Director

Pete Price | 512.414.8728 | peter.price@austinisd.org

Pete taught social studies and coached multiple sports at middle schools in New Hampshire, Belgium, and Austin for ten years. He has served as a campus administrator for 24 years, including 17 as the principal of O. Henry Middle School in AISD. After observing the student benefits from a whole child focus for his entire career, he became a passionate advocate for SEL since AISD partnered with CASEL in 2011. He was named director of SEL in July 2016.

Photo of Caroline Chase, Asst. Director of SEL

SEL Assistant Director

Caroline Chase | 512.414.9690 | caroline.chase@austinisd.org

Caroline taught high school English and Communication Skills for eight years, middle and high school students in residential treatment for two years, and middle school self- contained social behavioral skills for six years. She also served for five years as a Special Education Behavior Specialist. She was a founding member of the SEL Department in July, 2011, and serves as the team lead.

 
Photo of Victoria Birkeland

SEL Communications Specialist

Victoria Birkeland | 512.414.0872 | victoria.birkeland@austinisd.org

Victoria joined the Social and Emotional Learning team in the spring of 2017. Before that, she worked in the private sector for more than 10 years, gaining experience in marketing, communications and public relations.

 

Photo of James Butler

SEL Mindfulness Specialist

James Butler | james.butler@austinisd.org

James has 14 years of teaching experience, mostly in Pre-K and K; here in Austin he's taught at Winn, Barbara Jordan, T.A. Brown and Gullett Elementary. In 2014, James was named Austin ISD Teacher of the Year. In 2009, James volunteered as a HS English and Math teacher at Mangetti Combined School in Namibia. He wrote a mindfulness curriculum for elementary schools called Mindful Classrooms: The Educator Guide. It's being used in over 60 schools and camps in six states. He joined the SEL team in July 2016 as the Mindfulness Specialist.

SEL Specialists

 
Photo of Angela Bailey

Elementary SEL Specialist

Angela Bailey angela.bailey@austinisd.org

Angela has worked in Austin ISD for 15 years. Before joining the SEL team as an elementary specialist in 2013, she taught first grade along with SCORES / Special Education. During that time, she focused on the social and emotional development of her students to cultivate a safe, relationship-based community. She enjoys working collaboratively to provide optimal learning and support for students, staff and families. 

Photo of Alonzo Blankenship

Secondary SEL Specialist

Alonzo Blankenship | alonzo.blankenship@austinisd.org

Alonzo empowered students, families and staff as a band director and teacher leader at Garcia YMLA and Webb Middle School for five years. He is a proud graduate of the UT Principalship Program, where his action research focused on deeper learning in the classroom through culturally responsive teaching. He joined the SEL team in August 2016 as an elementary specialist and is currently working as a secondary specialist with the goal of cultivating compassionate communities.

 
Photo of Theresa Garcia

Elementary SEL Specialist

Theresa Garcia | theresa.garcia@austinisd.org

Theresa has 15 years of teaching and consulting experience in the public and private sector, primarily in early childhood education. Here in Austin, she has taught at Walnut Creek and Blazier elementary schools. Her Montessori training greatly influences her work in social and emotional learning and peace education. Theresa joined the SEL Department in August 2016 as an elementary specialist.

 

Photo of Emily Hoaldridge-Dopkins

Elementary SEL Specialist

Emily Hoaldridge-Dopkins | emily.hoaldridge-dopkins@austinisd.org

Emily taught first and second grade in an East Harlem public school in NYC for eight years before returning to her home state of Texas. Emily planned and promoted a strengths based, safe, inclusive & culturally responsive classroom. Emily finds joy in blending social and emotional learning with mindfulness instruction as a foundation for implementing rigorous, academic, data-informed instruction. Emily is featured in Daniel Goleman's book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, where her school and classroom implementation of mindfulness is highlighted. She joined the SEL Department in February 2016 as an elementary specialist.

 

 
Photo of Jason Littlefield

Secondary SEL Specialist

Jason Littlefield | jason.littlefield@austinisd.org

Jason taught high school social studies for 10 years in Houston, Fort Worth and Bastrop. Prior to joining the SEL team he also served as a high school assistant principal and has coached football, baseball and powerlifting. Jason has also worked in schools in Taiwan, China and Benin, Africa. He joined the SEL Department in July of 2014 as a secondary specialist.

Photo of Katie O'Neil

Secondary SEL Specialist

Katie O'Neil | katie.oneil@austinisd.org

Before joining the SEL team, Katie taught theatre arts, science and AVID at two AISD middle schools. She was an after-school program site director at Martin Middle School before getting her teaching certification. Earlier in her career, Katie led groups for young people addressing social/emotional well-being and healthy choices through the YWCA of Greater Austin, LifeWorks, SafePlace and other area nonprofits.​ She joined SEL in July 2014 as a secondary specialist.  

 
Photo of Amber Pleasant

Elementary SEL Specialist

Amber Pleasant amber.pleasant@austinisd.org

Amber has 17 years of teaching experience in Austin. She has taught early childhood through 8th grade. After graduating, Amber helped design a summer study program focused on Environmental Racism and the Environmental Justice Movement for college students. Her passions include culturally responsive teaching, leadership development, community building, and equity centered social and emotional learning. 

Photo of Aleza Sitarz

Elementary SEL Specialist

Aleza Sitarz aleza.sitarz@austinisd.org

Aleza joined the SEL Department in July 2012 and currently supports 15 elementary campuses in Northeast Austin with their SEL goals. Aleza is also a project manager for the SEL Leadership Pathway, supporting teachers across the district in their SEL Micro-Credentialing process. Previously, Aleza was a curriculum consultant for Committee for Children where she helped envision and create the Second Step Principal Toolkit for school leaders. She also worked as a Prevention Educator for the non-profit LifeWorks supporting SEL growth with students and families in Austin. She is passionate about the capacity for learning and growth in schools where all students, staff, and families feel they belong. 

 
Photo of Sarah Stone

Secondary SEL Specialist

Sarah E. Stone, LMSW | sarah.e.stone@austinisd.org

Sarah is a proud graduate of Austin ISD schools and has worked within AISD for 16 years. She has a special interest in equity-centered SEL practices, strategies for building distributive leadership, and practices to create student-centered schools. She joined the SEL Department in July 2013 as a secondary specialist.

Photo of Lynne Unruh

Elementary SEL Specialist

Lynne Unruh | lynne.unruh@austinisd.org​

Lynne was a special education teacher in Amarillo ISD for nine years, and a middle school counselor for three. Lynne worked for three years as a school counselor at Casis Elementary School. Lynne joined the SEL Department in July 2014 as an elementary specialist.

 

Families as Partners

 

 

Parent Support Coordinator

Maria Rosas | 512.841.9615 | maria.rosas@austinisd.org

 

Support Staff

 

 

Administrative Assistant

Dawn Goodman | 512.414.9791 | dawn.goodman@austinisd.org

Budget Specialist

Arleth De La Cruz  | 512.414.0874 |  arleth.delacruz@austinisd.org